Sort of a Book Review

May 4th, 2016
St. Louis Art Museum
My dad was an artist by trade and for the love of it. This one was for the love of it.

Before I got immersed in the kidlit world, I loved to read popular fiction, especially mysteries, intrigue, and thrillers. It had been a while since I picked one up, but things happen.

My dad, who also loved to read, found his eyesight suddenly not cooperating. I bought him a Kindle so he could enlarge the type at will, and he started reading all over again. It was great. His Kindle held, especially, mysteries, intrigue, and thrillers, along with some solid biographies and other nonfiction. When he finished Sycamore Row by John Grisham, he liked it so much, he wanted to share it with me.

“I don’t have a Kindle, Dad.”
“Oh, that’s right.”

He passed away just weeks later (three years ago this month), and I took his Kindle home. He had wanted me to read Sycamore Row, and that’s what I was going to do. I didn’t get to it right away, but once some of the sting had gone, I decided to give it a try. I read about half the book, then I put it down. This action wasn’t a reflection of the plot or characters; we all know that storytellers like Grisham can keep most readers engrossed forever. I was engrossed, and I found myself guessing about the outcome, and as an added bonus, the book made me realize something important about one of my characters.

So why did I put it down? I probably thought I needed to read some kid book or another and then I needed to concentrate on my writing and then I needed to clean out my closet and then…

The Kindle sat on my dresser for more than a year, gathering dust and reminding me I needed to finish the book. And then my daughter called, groaning that she had accidentally left her Kindle on the plane where all valuable things disappear before they ever make it to the lost and found. “I don’t use Opah’s,” I told her. “You can have it.”

I couldn’t send it to her, though, until I finished Sycamore Row. That’s when I realized why I had put the book aside. Finishing it would be like saying another goodbye to my dad. But last weekend, I finally did. And there were tears at the end.
The reason for that is up for debate.

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And please visit Barrie Summy’s blog for some real book reviews this month.

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@Barrie Summy

11 thoughts on “Sort of a Book Review”

  1. It’s touching that reading the book brought tears. It’s so hard to say good-bye to the people we love. Hope your daughter enjoys using Opah’s Kindle.

    As a side note, back in 2008, I left my Kindle One on an airplane. (I was an early adopter.) We drove back to the airport and found it in Lost and Found. At the time, I don’t think most people knew what one was. Nowadays, I probably wouldn’t have gotten it back.

    1. I think you’re right, Linda. Back then, not only would most people question what that was, but if they knew, they would have scoffed at the idea of reading on a device. Little did they know … but yay you for your foresight!

  2. Thanks, Jody, for sharing this sort of a book review. I’m so sorry about your dad, but it’s kind of cool that you got to spend sort of spend this time with him so many years after he was gone. That’s the amazing thing about books. And what a lovely way to remember him.

    1. I’m lucky that I have many ways to remember my parents. And while sadness does creep in, it’s more gratitude and joy ruling the emotions.

    1. With all my dad’s paintings in the house, I’m fortunate to spend time with him most days. This was special, though.

  3. I still haven’t read the last book my mother recommended to me…and that was over 20 years ago. Because once I read it, I won’t have more recommendations from her. 🙁 But I think I’ll follow your lead. What a very heart-warming review, Jody. Thank you for sharing! Plus, Sycamore Row is one of the few John Grisham books I haven’t read. And I have a kindle. 😉

    1. Obviously, I understand about not reading that book. But I’m thinking, Barrie, if after you’ve read that book, you search for recommendations base on that or on other books your and your mother shared, it might be like her pointing toward a rec that didn’t exist all those years ago. If that makes sense 🙂

  4. John Grisham used to be an autobuy author for me but in the past few years my stepfather has bought the books before I could and sent them to me when he was done. He sent this one to me a while back and it’s still in my TBR pile. Thanks for sharing your experience with the book, even if it was hard to do. I think it’s something a lot of us can relate to.

  5. I still think of book that my mother and I both loved. Sadly my father didn’t read so we never had that bond.

    1. I’m hoping, Patti, you bonded over other things. It’s different with different people, but it can be just as powerful, I’ve found.

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